Drone Photography Celebrates the Beauty of Historic High-Rise Buildings in the U.S.

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Philadelphia City Hall

Photographer Chris Hytha ventures to the tops of historic skyscrapers by way of drone photography. A recent architecture school graduate, his love of buildings is reflected in his images, and they highlight incredible façades created over a century ago. Hytha focuses his drone on the final floors leading to the structure's spire. In doing so, he showcases sculptures that sit atop it as well as the gilding and signage that makes the skyscraper an iconic part of a city skyline.

Hytha’s initial idea was to document historic high rises. At first, he thought to photograph them from adjacent rooftops, but that would be too logistically challenging. “Another direction I put some thought into is photographing from a helicopter with a telephoto lens,” he explains to My Modern Met, “but the costs would be tremendous.” A drone, he realized, would get him the type of shots he wanted.

The ensuing photographs allow us to fully appreciate the design and construction of these towering edifices. But capturing these aspects was made challenging because of the drone. “There are two problems that arose once I decided to use a drone for the project,” Hytha explains. “My DJI Air 2S can only shoot in landscape orientation, but the high-rise images must be vertical, and the resolution of a drone image is not enough to truly celebrate the intricate details atop these buildings.”

Hytha developed an approach to solve the issues he faced. “The high-rise images are created by scanning the building façade with images at each floor level, then manually stitching the series of landscape images into one vertical composition,” he shares. “This technique is time-consuming but well worth it for the extra sharpness and resolution it provides! One of the side effects of this method is the flattening of perspective, making the images almost like an orthographic architectural elevation.”

To learn more about Hytha’s method, check out his Twitter thread detailing the endeavor. Scroll down to see the results of this laborious—but well-worth it—process.

Photographer Chris Hytha ventures to the tops of historic skyscrapers by way of drone photography.

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Baltimore Trust Building

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Guardian Building in Detroit

He focuses his drone on the final floors leading to the structure's spire.

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Carbide and Carbon Building in Chicago

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Milwaukee City Hall

In doing so, he showcases sculptures that sit atop it as well as the gilding and signage that makes the skyscraper an iconic part of a city skyline.

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Mayo Clinic Building in Rochester

“The high-rise images are created by scanning the building façade with images at each floor level, then manually stitching the series of landscape images into one vertical composition,” he shares with My Modern Met.

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Tribune Tower in Oakland

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Custom House in Boston

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Roosevelt Hotel in Seattle

“One of the side effects of this method is the flattening of perspective, making the images almost like an orthographic architectural elevation.”

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Lefcourt Newark Building

Drone Architecture of High Rises by Chris Hytha

Board Of Trade Building in Scranton

Chris Hytha: Website | Instagram | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Chris Hytha. 

Related Articles:

Photographer Uses Drone To Wrap Historic Tower in Light

Drone Photos of Barcelona Highlight the Symmetry of the City’s Architecture

Stunning Bird’s-Eye View of Places Around the World Taken with Drones

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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